Because the shower is one of the most frequently used fixtures in the bathroom, you want to install something that will withstand daily use — and look good in the process. Although the look of the space is important, be sure to make plumbing and heating system considerations as well. Whether you want a walk-in shower, shower/tub combo, steam shower or just the typical shower stall, here are a few things to consider as you start the shopping process.
What type of shower unit will work with your heating system?
Your heating system plays a large role in the type that will work in your home. First, understand what type of heating system you have. Once you have that information, one of the following should be right for you:
Electric: These can be used within any domestic water system. They are generally connected to the main cold water supply, and the water is then passed through a heating element. Be sure your fuse board is capable of providing the current necessary to power the unit.
Mixer: Suitable for either low or high pressure systems, these units mix existing hot and cold water in a special valve before it is available at the shower head. In order to work properly, both the hot and cold water need to come from a source operating at the same pressure, such as a mains fed system or tank fed water. Because this type is connected to the same pipes used to supply water to other points, its flow rate may be affected if someone is concurrently running tap water or flushing the toilet.
Thermostatic mixer: These options rectify dramatic changes in temperature through pre-set thermostats. Many have a temperature limiting device to prevent burning. However, this is the most expensive of the mixer options.
Power: Only able to be installed on low pressure, tank fed systems, this type of mixer increases the rate of flow from the shower head through integral pumps. A dedicated hot and cold supply is necessary.
Should you choose a prefabricated shower stall or consider custom?
Available in a wide range of colours and styles, prefabricated options are generally made from fibreglass or fibreglass-reinforced acrylic and will likely be more affordable. Some require assembly while others are a single-piece unit. Custom stalls let you have complete control over all fixtures and its finish, which may be more appropriate for your bathroom if your budget allows it. That way, you can get the walk-in, zero threshold or double shower you've always been dreaming of.
What type of prefabricated kits are available for showers?
There are several ready-made styles on the market to fit your needs. Consider the following:
Corner: Shaped like a square, these are a great fit for smaller bathrooms or in master bathrooms where a separate stall from the bathtub is needed.
Round: These also fit in the corner, but have a rounded, finished edge.
Framed: Framed stalls rely on traditional exposed framework and trim to create a strong enclosure. Water is collected and trapped in a track, which requires occasional cleaning.
Frameless: Frameless designs require no frame and are generally panelled in glass, allowing light in. Without a track to collect water, they’re easier to maintain.
What kind of shower head and fixtures should you buy?
In order to create a cohesive look, buying a multiple-piece faucet kit is the way to go; after all, it ensures that the finish and overall design is consistent. Most kits come with a shower head, tub handle and tub spout, though you can also upgrade with additional heads or an all-in-one panel. Rain shower heads are really popular — either installed on the ceiling or wall — and handheld shower heads often pair nicely.